Your appointment to make a Will – what to expect

Coffee and notepad

If you have made an appointment with me to make a Will and/or Lasting Powers of Attorney, you might be wondering what to expect!

First, we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time for me to visit your home. This will be an appointment of up to one hour to take instructions. I can meet you at another location of your choice (provided that it is within my area), but it must be suitably private for our meeting.

If you are a couple, you should arrange a time when I can see you both together.

You must tell me in advance if you have any particular disabilities (for example, if you are blind or partially sighted, or have speech or hearing problems). You must also tell me if your level of English is not proficient.

If you have an existing Will, please do have it ready. In fact, it is ideal if you can provide me with a copy before my visit.

If you are wondering what other information I will need for Will writing, you might like to take a look at my article, ‘Considerations for making a Will‘. I also have a simple questionnaire in Microsoft Word format that you can download at the bottom of that article, to help you collect together information before our meeting.

I need to see my client or clients alone to take instructions. Please do not take offence if I ask any other persons at your property to leave the room. This is to avoid the possibility of the Wills being challenged down the line. Generally the only exception I can make is for those with a disability who need to have someone present (for example, for sign language/interpretation). Please do discuss this with me in advance if you think it will be an issue.

I would also ask respectfully that you ensure the room is very quiet and without distractions. For example, I love dogs and children but they do make taking instructions rather difficult sometimes!

I appreciate some clients may be particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. However, for personal reasons that I would be happy to explain, I do find it extremely difficult to conduct meetings when clients are wearing masks. I would ask that if you do want to wear some protection, you wear a clear face shield. Alternatively (or additionally!) I am very happy to sit outside with you if the weather permits.

I will provide you with my standard client care letter. This sets out who I am, my regulators, my fees, what I have agreed to do for you, and what you can do if you are unhappy with my work.

I am obliged to check your ID – please have your passport and driving licence ready, together with proof of your address (e.g. a recent council tax or utility bill). I must carry out this check, even if I know you personally and even if you have invited me to your home address. However, if you do not have these documents, please let me know and we can look at what other documents will be suitable.

I usually start by taking down your basic details and starting to build a picture of your family. It is very important that I have a full picture of your family tree. Please do not worry if your family structure is non-conventional – mine certainly is! I need to do everything possible to ensure that your objectives are met, so do tell me about any difficulties within the family dynamic.

We will discuss various other matters such as who will be your Executors, your funeral wishes, guardianship for minor children and what would happen to your pets.

We’ll then look at your assets including those that will pass according to your Will, and those that won’t. We will likely discuss Inheritance Tax, and whether your assets currently exceed your Inheritance Tax allowances. We will also look at any lifetime gifts you have made, over and above the lifetime gifting allowances – and the possible consequences. If necessary, we can discuss what you can do about a potential Inheritance Tax bill, going forward.

I’ll then need to know what you’d like to gift and to who! If you haven’t yet made your mind up about personal possessions, don’t worry – these can be dealt with by a ‘codicil’ later on, provided that they’re not too valuable. You will need to think about any business or agricultural property you own too, and what will happen to this after you die.

Once I have a good picture of your family and your assets, I will offer you some initial possibilities on how you could structure your Will. We will agree ‘next steps’ which might be collecting additional information, or simply producing a draft for you to read over. Once you have this, I can make any changes as necessary.

Any communication at this stage can be made by email, text, Whatsapp or phone, to suit you. My hours of work are weekdays between 9am and 3pm although please bear in mind I may be on another appointment when you call.

Once you are happy with your drafts, I will produce final bound copies and send them to you for signing, with simple instructions. In some cases, I am happy to assist with this in person but generally I do prefer to send them out for you to sign in your own time. I will also write to you with a form for Wills storage if you have requested it (see below), any other recommendations such as documents you should consider having and other third-party services you might want to consider (for example, seeing a financial advisor).

Any codicils should be completed at this point. These are additions to the Will and can be used to list off personal property that you want to give away. They are executed in the same way as the Will, and should be stored with the Will.

I do not offer a Will storage service. However, if you return your Will to me (plus any codicils) with form PA7ENV (I will provide this) and a cheque for £20 made payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’ for each Will, I would be happy to take a copy of your Wills for the file and deposit them with the HMCTS service. The fee is a one-off and sometimes help is available if you get benefits or are on a low income. I do not charge an additional fee for this because it is my preferred option – it means I have a signed copy of your Wills on file and I know they are being stored safely!

I hope that this provides a good overview of what to expect when making a Will with me. If you have any questions at all, please do get in touch!

UPDATE: I am not currently taking on clients. For a fairly simple Will, you could try the new online Wills portal. If care fees are a concern, you could contact April King who specialise in this type of Will structure.

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